If you don’t know me, and likely you might not because the internet is pretty big place, aside from loving travel and writing I’m also obsessed with musicals. When I was at the stage door for autographs from the cast of Promises Promises in New York City I decided to write this post on how to get autographs after a Broadway show, but these tips could be used for other types of shows, concerts, venues, etc. To make it easier I use the word performer in substitute for actor, musician, artist, dancer, etc.
- 1. Before you buy your tickets check where your seats are located. If available the venue website will have a seating chart. Look for something on the main floor, close to the aisle. If there is no assigned seating you may want to come earlier to get better seats.
- Be prepared. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes – I waited for over an hour to get Alice Ripley’s autograph after Next To Normal. Bring something for the performer to autograph like a Playbill, ticket stub, CD, etc. You can be more creative, but make sure it’s appropriate for where you are. You may also want to bring a felt pen in case the performer forget theirs, or it dries out – which happens.
- Arrive early enough to the show to know where the stage door is (usually around the side or at the back). Once your in your seat map out the route from where you are to the stage door. You don’t want to waste time going in the wrong direction. Don’t go out the fire/emergency only exit.
- Don’t eat or drink too much before/during the show. You don’t want to waste your time in the washroom while the autograph line gets bigger and bigger.
- Don’t be so distracted by the chance for an autograph that you forget to enjoy the show (or even pay attention to it) while it’s on. Stay for any curtain calls/encores, stand up and cheer at the end if was amazing. Don’t be the jerk who disturbs everyone so you can rush to the exit before the show is over.
- It could be chaotic. In Toronto the line for Rent autographs was pretty organized. Promises Promises was a lot more haphazard, with people spilling onto the street. You might have to be a bit pushy to get something signed, but don’t be violent, or rude. And listen to security – especially if they’re telling you to get back off the road.
- Performers are just people doing a job – even if they seem godlike to you. Don’t be offended if they won’t pose for a photo, or if they can’t sign autographs for everyone. If you’re lucky enough to get an autograph say thanks. If not just shake it off. Be polite. Feel free to tell the performers that you like the show, or that you’re a fan, but don’t monopolize everyone’s time, because there might be other people waiting for an autograph. Also don’t be a creepy creeper. Signed restraining orders do not count as autographs.
- If you’re just waiting for an autograph from specific performer be polite to the other performers that come by. I went to Toronto because actors from the original Broadway run of Rent were performing, and I was looking forward to getting autographs from them, but everyone in the cast did a fantastic job so I was happy getting autographs from the new cast too. I had the original cast sign my CD booklet, and the new cast sign the inside of the program. If you don’t want an autograph from someone step back and let another person get something autographed.
- Know there’s a chance a performer may not come out to sign autographs at all. It’s a risk you take while waiting in line, so decide if getting an autograph is worth it for you. If you get tired standing in line then it’s perfect fine to call it quits and leave. It’s your time, and yu can spend it how you want.
Finally here’s some advice of what not to do. When I was in standing in line for autographs from the Next To Normal cast a lady came by to get her Memphis Playbill signed. She had seen a different show, and walked up for autographs for a show she didn’t watch. The purpose (at least to me) of an autograph is to have a memento, something to remind you of the show you saw, and performance you enjoyed. Why would you get an autograph for a show and performance you didn’t see? Perhaps this lady was a big Brian D’arcy James fan (he was the Next To Normal cast member who signed her Memphis playbill. More likely she just wanted an autograph from an actor just to say she got an autograph from another show. It was tacky, and embarrassing to watch.
Whether you can an autograph or meet your childhood idol (like me) remember to enjoy the experience. Have fun, and make sure to remember what happened so you can tell your friends about it when you get home. Just don’t boast too much.